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Updated Mar 05, 2024

HubSpot vs. Zendesk: Which CRM Is Right for Your Business?

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Mark Fairlie, Business Operations Insider and Senior Analyst

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When they first launched, customer relationship management (CRM) systems were designed to help businesses look after their clients better. Since then, their scope has extended into almost every business area, from sales and marketing to inventory management.

Two of the most popular and best CRMs available on the market today are HubSpot and Zendesk. In this comparison, we review each one side by side to help you decide which is the most suitable for your business.

HubSpot vs. Zendesk compared

Here’s a comparison of HubSpot and Zendesk at a glance.

Criteria

HubSpot

Zendesk

Starting prices

Free

$19 per user, per month

Free trial

14 days

14 days

Sales and marketing tools

Multiplatform campaigns, active lists and online lead capture

Multichannel, power dialer, smart lists and data enrichment

Customer service features

Detailed customer data, multichannel support and self-service option

Customer interaction logging, sophisticated ticketing and self-service option

Workflows and automation

Prebuilt sales workflows, case resolution workflows and referral program management

Two types of automation, side conversations, light agents and artificial intelligence (AI)-driven workflows

Data and analytics

Attribution reporting, historical reports and 13 prebuilt business reports

Dashboard data customization, customer service quality analysis and two reporting outputs

Apps and integrations

1,000 apps, webhooks and robust application programming interface (API)

1,000 apps, API integration and knowledge base themes

Who do we recommend HubSpot for?

HubSpot is one of the best CRM platforms on the market for companies that want better results from their sales and marketing teams. It combines a depth of functionality with real ease of use, even on complex tasks like launching A/B test marketing campaigns and managing search engine optimization. Its built-in CRM data analytics are second to none and these insights will give your teams what they need to generate more leads and close more deals:

  • HubSpot integrates extremely well with other business software to sync and streamline your operations.
  • Your HubSpot account can grow as your workforce grows, with no cap on limited-access user accounts for employees.
  • HubSpot is known for its extensive online resources on all things marketing.

Read our complete review of the HubSpot CRM to find out more about what the platform offers in-depth.

Hubspot lead generation dashboard

The lead generation dashboard on HubSpot gives an overview of your contacts. Source: HubSpot

Who do we recommend Zendesk for?

Zendesk excels for companies wanting to provide first-class after-sales service to customers. Its multichannel ticketing system is a standout and its smart routing means clients get through to the right staff member when contacting your business. Zendesk will reduce staff workloads and enable quicker complaint and query resolution. The AI built into the system is particularly helpful, providing agents with on-screen prompts to increase the chance of a first contact resolution. Zendesk’s AI will even help you build out an effective self-service customer portal. This solution also benefits from a highly usable and flexible sales and marketing platform:

  • Zendesk allows you to pay attention to the entire customer lifecycle, not just the sales pipeline.
  • Zendesk can combine the best of a traditional CRM with a customer service platform.
  • Zendesk’s collaboration tools make it easier for teams to work together to improve sales and customer service.

To learn more about the platform and its features, read our up-to-date review of the Zendesk CRM.

Zendesk main dashboard

The main dashboard within Zendesk shows statistics on customer interactions and related information. Source: Zendesk

HubSpot vs. Zendesk comparison

We’ve analyzed HubSpot and Zendesk across five key areas ranging from sales and marketing to apps and integrations, in addition to the all-important pricing.

Pricing

HubSpot

Plan

Starting Price per Month

Features

Free Tier

Free

  • Basic search engine optimization (SEO) recommendations
  • Send 2,000 emails per month with HubSpot branding
  • Live chat with HubSpot branding

Starter

$30 for two users

Everything in the Free tier, plus:

  • 1,000 properties for records
  • 10 dashboards (with 10 reports each)
  • 1,000 static lists
  • 2 sales suite pipelines
  • 25 active lists
  • Document storage
  • Email marketing and retargeting (no HubSpot branding)
  • Forms (no HubSpot branding)
  • Landing pages
  • Live chat (no HubSpot branding)
  • Payment processing
  • Sales content analytics
  • Sales automation tools

Professional

$1,600 for five users

Everything in Starter, plus:

  • A/B testing
  • Access to Marketing Hub, Sales Hub and Service Hub Professional with 5 paid users
  • Customer reporting
  • Contact center attribution
  • Deal and company scoring
  • Dynamic personalization
  • SEO analytics

Enterprise

$5,000 for 10 users

Everything in Professional, plus:

  • 10,000 marketing contacts
  • 10 paid users on Marketing Hub, Sales Hub and Service Hub Professional
  • Additional tools and higher allocations of individual features like email marketing, list segmentation and so on

The prices shown above are for the HubSpot CRM suite with annual prepayment. A monthly payment option is available, but it’ll cost you a lot more. At between $320 and $500 a head on the higher-level plans, HubSpot is already a significant investment. However, it’s intuitive, feature-packed and highly customizable.

Keep in mind, though, that there are other fees to factor in over and above costs related to plug-ins and apps. For example, there’s a $3,000 onboarding fee on the Professional tier. There are other fees tied to API calls, a WhatsApp integration and dedicated IPs. As a result, it can be hard to see how much the service will truly cost you at the outset.

Zendesk

There are two interoperable CRMs in Zendesk: one focused on sales (Zendesk Sell) and one on customer service (Zendesk Service). We’ve broken down the pricing accordingly.

Zendesk Sell Plan

Price per User, per Month

Features

Team

$19

  • 2GB of document storage
  • 2 sales pipelines
  • 50 minutes of talk time
  • Call recording
  • Custom deals
  • Duplicate detection
  • Email tracking
  • Offline mobile access
  • Prebuilt reporting dashboards
  • Public apps and integrations
  • Required fields
  • Sales triggers
  • Single sign-on
  • Smart lists
  • Tasks
  • Text messaging

Growth

$49

Everything in Team, plus: 

  • 10 sales pipelines
  • 1,000 enrichment credits
  • 25 prospecting credits
  • 5GB of document storage
  • 50 sales sequences
  • Advanced reporting
  • Bulk emailing
  • Company phone number
  • Custom apps
  • Premium API access
  • Product and price book
  • Round-robin distribution
  • Sales forecasting
  • Scheduled reporting
  • Unlimited email templates

Professional

$99

Everything in Growth, plus: 

  • 10GB of document storage
  • 20 sales pipelines
  • 150 prospecting credits
  • 300 sales sequences
  • 3,500 enrichment credits
  • Automated power dialer
  • Call scripts
  • Custom notifications
  • Lead and deal scoring
  • Task automation

Enterprise

$150

Everything in Professional, plus:

  • 10,000 enrichment credits
  • 25GB of document storage
  • 300 prospecting credits
  • Direct dial phone
  • Unlimited sales pipelines
  • Unlimited sequences

 

Zendesk Service Plan

Price per User, per Month

Features

Team

$55

  • Analytics dashboard
  • Help center
  • Standard chatbots
  • Ticketing system

Growth

$89

Everything in Team, plus:

  • Customer self-service portal
  • Service-level agreements
  • Customer satisfaction ratings

Professional

$115

Everything in Growth, plus:

  • AI add-ons
  • Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act compliance
  • Intelligent insights and suggestions

Enterprise

Quoted-based

Everything in Professional, plus:

  • AI-powered content cues
  • Content blocks
  • Contextual workspaces
  • Customized agent roles
  • Developer sandbox

Prices shown are for annual subscriptions — monthly subscriptions cost around 20 percent more. Zendesk has no free plan like HubSpot does, but it does offer a 14-day free trial.

Some of the most valuable features attract an extra charge, like $50 per user, per month for Advanced AI (only available to Professional and Enterprise subscribers), while the ticketing system costs $19 to $115 per agent per month.

Winner: HubSpot

At the highest tiers, the price difference between the two platforms isn’t great, but what decides it for HubSpot is its range of features makes it better value for your money. The cost may give you sticker shock at first but these are competitive prices for the sector.

FYIDid you know

Check out our review of the Freshworks Freshsales CRM if you want to try another provider that offers a free plan like HubSpot.

Sales and marketing tools

HubSpot

  • Marketing platform: Run email marketing and text message marketing campaigns as well as paid search like Google Ads from the dashboard. The SEO tools are very impressive and should help your company website rank higher.
  • List management: We loved the dynamic “active lists” that add or remove prospects from “hotlists” according to their actions. The data segmentation is intuitive, allowing you to create super-responsive marketing lists based on factors like past interactions, psychographics and demographics.
  • Lead nurturing: HubSpot’s lead scoring helps your sales representatives prioritize which deals to close first. The document-sharing tool is excellent if you need a signature when making the sale. We like how the online lead capture form can also distribute contact details to the most appropriate salesperson. [Check out our picks for the best document management software if you’re especially interested in e-signatures.]

Zendesk

  • Marketing suite: You can run multichannel campaigns, including text and email, through Zendesk, although the social media marketing integration on the platform could be improved. We appreciated the power dialer in Zendesk Sell for telemarketing campaigns. 
  • Client data handling: We were impressed by the “Smart List” feature in Zendesk, which allows you to create and save segmented databases so you can run separate campaigns for different audiences. 
  • Lead handling: Enrich your existing marketing data with details of 350 million prospects for even more precise campaigns. We love how you can program different stages in the Zendesk Reach feature to take a lead right up to the point of sale using advanced automations like personalized email sequencing.

Winner: HubSpot

HubSpot wins thanks to its tightly integrated and comprehensive marketing platform that includes highly effective and customizable list management and lead nurturing tools. However, Zendesk will perform very well for simpler sales cycles.

Hubspot deal pipeline management

The deal pipeline management feature in HubSpot allows you to study changes in sales over a given period. Source: HubSpot

Customer service features

HubSpot

  • Detailed customer records and tickets: HubSpot records every customer interaction so your sales and service reps can understand clients better when they get in touch. The amount of information you can hold on both prospects and existing customers is stellar. We were very impressed at how the AI functionality gives you in-call tips to speed up problem resolution and inquiry handling.
  • Multichannel support: Customers want to contact you their way — whether by phone, email, short message service (SMS) or live chat. You can offer all of these contact methods with HubSpot and when the system recognizes a customer, the interaction will be stored in their record for future reference.
  • Self-service options: We loved the knowledge base option in HubSpot, which allows customers to find the answers they’re looking for without having to contact you directly. You can add a searchable database of blogs, documents, videos and more that customers can access 24/7. Clients can also set up a ticket on the customer portal and track its progress.

Zendesk

  • Comprehensive customer interactions: We like how agents using Zendesk can handle conversations easily with customers across different channels, including phone, email, SMS and WhatsApp. The built-in AI is first class in helping agents solve client issues faster through on-screen tips and suggestions.
  • Sophisticated ticketing system: Tickets can be raised through any channel, including social media and community forums and managed across multiple channels until resolution. We like how managers can route tickets automatically to the right agents based on their knowledge and expertise.
  • Customer self-service: Build a robust and detailed knowledge base, known as Zendesk Guide, so customers can find their own solutions independently. Upload blogs, videos and more to educate clients on how they can get even more out of your products and services to enhance customer loyalty.

Winner: Zendesk

Zendesk takes this round thanks to its excellent ticketing system, better AI integration for agents and superb Zendesk Guide knowledge feature.

TipTip

If you’re already using a third-party email, SMS or voice-over-internet-protocol provider and would prefer to continue using them instead of what HubSpot or Zendesk natively offer, check to see that they are compatible before signing up with your CRM of choice.

Workflows and automations

HubSpot

  • Sales and marketing: HubSpot comes with 36 customizable prebuilt sales CRM workflows you can adapt. For example, You can make sure you respond quickly to a new query with an automatic notification to the sales manager when an online lead comes in. Other useful automations include email drip campaigns, lead scoring, customer profile enrichment and automatic lead assignment.
  • Customer support: Improve after-sales support by customizing and automating case creation, resolution and escalation workflows. Get customer feedback on how well you’re doing by sending out business surveys and questionnaires to customers once an issue has been settled.
  • General business workflows: Set automated workflows across your company on tasks as diverse as validating email addresses to invoicing to managing customer referral programs.

Zendesk

  • Sales automations: We love the smart event- and deadline-based customizable automations on Zendesk that help sales teams push deals from the point of inquiry to the close. Teams can set their own stages of sale on the platform and associate automations with individual stages like email follow-ups and follow-up call prompts.
  • Customer services: Use “side conversations” to bring in a colleague to help a customer out in a three-way conversation. The “light agent” feature does the same but the customer can’t see your colleague’s input. We were also impressed by how customers can create their own service tickets, even via social media.
  • Business improvement: Zendesk’s new Sunshine development platform is excellent, allowing users to build advanced, customizable workflows and intelligent messaging channels using AI conversational tools and in low-code environments.

Winner: HubSpot

HubSpot has the edge because you can set and automate a wider range of business workflows quickly and easily. Zendesk is not far behind, however, and we were amazed by the Sunshine development platform.

Did You Know?Did you know

Siloing of information is one of the reasons many businesses don’t grow as fast as they could. With a centralized CRM database, colleagues across your company can have access to the same data and be able to share their insights with each other.

Zendesk workflow automation

The intuitive workflow automation building in Zendesk lets you set up automatic actions with different triggers. Source: Zendesk

Data and analytics

HubSpot

  • Sales and marketing: We like how HubSpot handles attribution reporting, meaning marketers know where leads have come from and which campaigns are more likely to generate sales. We also appreciate how HubSpot allows interaction between sales and marketing teams for more conjoined planning.
  • Customer services: Get live reports on a range of customer service metrics, including customer feedback, service ticket progress and team and rep ticket conversion rates, to discover where you’re doing well and where you can improve after-sales care. [Learn about conversion tracking.]
  • Business performance: HubSpot provides 13 detailed reports out of the box to senior managers on issues ranging from social media engagement rates and lead tracking to general profit and loss statements and inventory management. [Find out the benefits of using CRM software for lead management.]

Zendesk

  • Sales and marketing: We like how sales and marketing managers can populate the team dashboard with key performance indicators and performance data like sales funnel dropout and take advantage of sales forecasting tools that help reps choose which deals are likely to close (“win likelihood”) and for how much. We were impressed at how the configure, price, quote tool handles live quote updates on more complex deals.
  • Customer services: A highlight of the platform is that managers can monitor how well service reps are performing via metrics like time to answer calls, outstanding customer service issues and how long it takes to resolve tickets.
  • Business reporting: We appreciated how easy it is to create customized reports on a wide range of metrics, like new account creation, expected revenues, booked sales volumes and time to answer calls. Managers can add tables and charts to reports to make them more easily digestible.

Winner: HubSpot

HubSpot is the narrow victor in this category because its range of data analytic and reporting tools gives a more holistic view of your overall business. 

Apps and integrations

HubSpot

  • Large app marketplace: The number of third-party and native apps for HubSpot is impressive, totaling over 1,000. Each app is given its own category, which makes it easy to find and compare plug-ins with the functionality you want.
  • Sales and marketing focus: Given HubSpot’s sales and marketing focus, we were impressed by how many relevant apps there were on the platform, ranging from WordPress and Canva to Shopify and LinkedIn Sales Navigator.
  • Robust API and data integration tools: Connect other business apps and tools like Google Contacts, Stripe and Airtable however you want with HubSpot’s comprehensive API. We liked the webhooks, which simplify and improve real-time data updates between HubSpot and other programs.

Zendesk

  • Sizeable app store: Choose from over 1,000 prebuilt plug-ins separated into 16 categories. Find the one you want easily via the search bar.
  • API integrations: The API documentation is thorough and will greatly help developers create custom apps. Be aware there is a monthly API call limit and you’ll be charged for exceeding it.
  • Knowledge base themes: If you choose to build a knowledge base for your customers, you can choose from over 150 prebuilt themes to give it the look and feel you want.

Winner: HubSpot

Despite having similar numbers of apps, HubSpot wins out here because of its comprehensive API and its inclusion of webhooks.

HubSpot vs. Zendesk Recap

Choose HubSpot if…

  • You want to drive better performance from your sales and marketing teams.
  • You need a CRM that can scale easily as your business grows.
  • You’re looking for a CRM that will integrate easily with your other business software. 

Choose Zendesk if…

  • You want to generate more revenue from existing customers by providing excellent after-sales service
  • You need to manage how you gather and analyze customer satisfaction better.
  • You’re looking for a platform that a small sales and marketing team can use to centralize their campaigns.

FAQ

Whether Zendesk is better than HubSpot will depend on your business needs. HubSpot and Zendesk are both advanced and popular CRM systems that are easy to use, but HubSpot generally is better at improving sales and marketing within businesses while Zendesk offers superior customer service management.

Salesforce is the biggest competitor of HubSpot because it’s the market leader, but HubSpot itself is a very popular CRM used in over 120 countries. Other major competitors to HubSpot include Zendesk, Keap, Zoho, Oracle NetSuite and Pipedrive.

Zendesk and HubSpot are stand-alone systems. However, some companies use HubSpot to manage their sales and marketing while others use Zendesk to manage customer service. There are plug-ins between the two platforms that allow you to use the functionality of, for example, Zendesk within the HubSpot dashboard.

Zendesk is considered by many as one of the best CRMs for managing customer service teams and the complete customer lifecycle thanks to its advanced ticketing system, workflow automations and increasing integration of smart AI.

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Mark Fairlie, Business Operations Insider and Senior Analyst
Mark Fairlie is a telecommunications and telemarketing expert who has spent decades working across advertising, sales, and more. He is the former co-owner of Meridian Delta, a direct marketing company that he successfully sold to new management in 2015. Through this experience, Fairlie gained firsthand knowledge of the life of an entrepreneur, from conceiving a business idea to growing a company at scale to transferring ownership. In the time since, Fairlie launched a second marketing company as well as a sole proprietorship. He has expanded his purview to include topics like cybersecurity, taxation and investments as they relate to B2B business owners like himself.
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